it is, the game that no one thought would ever actually see the light of
day on this side of the Pacific. Treasure's premier N64 offering, renamed
to Mischief Makers, is a traditional 2D side scrolling action game in the
vein of such classics as Gunstar Heroes and the Contra series. The N64
is the last place you'd expect to see a game like this, but the system
actually pulls it off rather nicely.
You play Ultra-Intergalactic-Cybot-G, Marina Liteyears, a spunky little
robot who assists the adventurer, Prof. Theo. Actually, in MM her assistance
is pretty much limited to rescuing Theo from various predicaments. The
duo have traveled to the planet Clancer after hearing of the problems plaguing
the land, however, it seems that the evil Clancers have some sort of strange
obsession with the prof., they keep kidnapping him. To make matters worse,
Theo and Marina have been branded as criminals.
Anyone who's played Treasure's previous games knows that they're one
of the best at what they do. Mischief Makers, while maybe not their best
effort, is certainly proof of this. As Marina you'll move in 360 degrees
through multiple levels, each with a unique goal. All the early levels
are basic tutorials, allowing you to practice Marina's skills such as jumping,
grabbing, throwing and shaking. In the Treasure tradition, the learning
curve is nothing short of perfect. While the early levels are very forgiving,
by the time you reach the advanced levels, you'll find you're a master
at just about every skill available to you. While the levels are short,
the variety makes boredom no threat, and the sheer amount of areas makes
for a large game.
Some of the Clancers are actually friendly and can
help you out with various hints.
Unfortunately, there is a downside that offsets what should be a great
game. The control seems a tad quirky, and you may find yourself zigging
instead of zagging. One major culprit is the tiny c-cluster buttons, and
the fact that double tapping will give you a burst of power in any direction.
The controls do become a little easier with practice, but still not as
good as they could have been. Weather it's the controller or the game that's
to blame for this, I'm not sure, but it's irritating nonetheless.
The graphics are charming, and are very reminiscent of Guardian Heroes
on the Saturn. Each level is simply bursting with color and lush backgrounds.
The level of the graphics seem to fluctuate, however, as some areas look
like a SNES game, while others, especially the bosses, really show of the
capabilities of Nintendo's powerhouse. Each sprite is very well animated,
and there are some nice lighting effects in a few of the scenes. It would
be interesting to compare this to other N64 efforts of its kind, but unfortunately,
that just can't be done.
Music has never been a strongpoint of the N64, and I'm sorry to say
that Mischief Makers does nothing to improve that reputation one bit. The
tunes are all classic Treasure, but the quality is just lacking. It wouldn't
be hard to find a SNES game that sounds better than this. The voice samples
are actually very nice, although they're limited. I swear, if I hear Marina
shout "STOOOOPP!!" one more time I may be forced to do something
drastic. Seriously, the voices add some much needed character to the game,
and really are done well.
Lunar packs quite a punch, but with the help of Cat
Clancer, you can overcome all obstacles.
When all is said and done, I can't say that I'm not pleased with Mischief
Makers. Although it's not all I thought it should be, it's a solid side
scroller. It's funny how this genre seems to be making a comeback, especially
on the N64. While the term "beggars can't be choosers" may best
describe Mischief Makers on the N64, if you're a Treasure fan, or an N64
owner that's sick of Doom clones, Mischief Makers is the game for you.
-- Greg Sewart